Maryland Opioid Overdose Rates Continue to Worsen


Maryland Opioid Overdose Rates Continue to Worsen

Deaths related to opioid overdoses in Harford County, Maryland, surpassed the total for all of 2016 this week. With more than four months left in 2017, the problem is only expected to get worse.

As of Tuesday, there were 229 reported overdoses this year, according to the Sheriff’s Office. 59 of those overdoses were fatal. In just the previous week, there had been 11 opioid-related overdoses with one fatality.

Compared to 2016’s 290 overdoses and 56 fatalities, and 2015’s 201 overdoses with 27 fatalities, it is clear that the problem is worsening at a drastic rate.

The state’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner provided a toxicology report on 33 of the 59 people who have died from suspected overdoses this year—30 of those reports show signs of fentanyl or carfentanil having been in the victims’ systems when they overdosed.

Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler, who has been in office since 2014, said in an emailed statement that “the goal was and always will be to save lives first.” Gahler leads the HOPE for Harford, or Heroin Overdose Prevention Effort work group, which was started in 2015. “Our focus has always been to target the suppliers and local dealers and not lock up the user,” he said. “Our efforts have also been to dissuade new users through education.”

“With four months remaining in 2017, we have already surpassed the number of total and fatal overdoses for all of 2016,” the Sheriff’s Office posted on its Facebook page Monday evening. “If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction, help is available.”
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